Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Great Lakes Region

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October 17, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Special Envoy Xia, for your informative briefing, and I also thank Mr. Caholo and Ms. Malimukono, for your briefings, and welcome the participation of PRs from DRC and Rwanda.

Special Envoy, the United States appreciates all you have done to generate international support for the EAC-led Nairobi Process and Luanda Process. Despite these efforts, the security situation in the Great Lakes region remains dire and continues to deteriorate as tensions between the DRC and Rwanda grow.

Six months ago, during our last briefing on the Great Lakes region, we called on all parties to act expeditiously to meet their commitments under the Luanda communique in full, including M23’s withdrawal to the Sabinyo Line, followed by cantonment and disarmament.

While regional states have stepped up to help with this process, M23 has blocked access to pre-cantonment sites, hampering DDR efforts and interfering with MONUSCO’s important work.

Once again, I repeat our call for Rwanda to immediately end its support for the UN-sanctioned M23 and withdraw from DRC territory. We also call for the FARDC to cut ties with the UN-sanctioned FDLR.

We call on regional troops deployed to eastern DRC, whether bilaterally or through the East African Community, to coordinate with each other and MONUSCO. And they must – they must – avoid human rights violations and abuses and illicit activities, including illicit mineral extraction.

I want to once again urge all Council members to avoid endorsing greater MONUSCO support to the EACRF without appropriate safeguards, in line with UN policies to address human rights, accountability, and command and control concerns. These safeguards are vital to ensure we do not inadvertently worsen an already dangerous security situation.

Colleagues, as we have heard today, because of the region’s instability, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated to alarming levels. Conflict has displaced more than half a million people in 2023 alone, many of whom are being forced to live without access to adequate food, water, or medical care in camps filled far beyond capacity.

Thousands of women and children are being exploited by organized sex trafficking operations. And I thank you again, Ms. Malimukono, for your extraordinary efforts to bring attention to their needs.

And according to the World Food Program, ongoing political instability has devastated food production and distribution, resulting in widespread food shortages. 1.5 million people are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, and this is simply unacceptable in the twenty-first century. A man-made political crisis has become a man-made humanitarian crisis, and it must end.

Colleagues, we must pursue diplomatic solutions. As such, I call on regional leaders to maintain an open dialogue, especially as the DRC’s national elections approach. These elections must be free and fair for everyone, including women and minority communities. All Congolese civilians deserve the right to live in peace, and to have their voice heard at the polls.

Special Envoy Xia, again, thank you. Thank you for your efforts. It is my sincere hope that the next time you brief this Council, we will have made strides towards achieving peace. There is no time to waste.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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